Ã„nglagÃ¥rd is arguably the most influential progressive rock band to originate from Sweden during their brief trajectory. From 1992-1996, the members of the band brought a unique, intense and overwhelming experience to their fans, filled not only with captivating melodies but also rich layers of musicianship and harmony.
The band was formed in 1991 in Gothenburg, Sweden by three music students of the local College of Music and Drama; Thomas Johnson, Tord LundstrÃ¶m and Mattias Olsson. Although the three members had all studied classical music and been members of orchestras that had performed in international festivals, at school they found themselves exposed to rock, jazz, and blues as well as prog and classical music styles.
The members had already been playing together for a while before they conceived the idea of Ã„nglagÃ¥rd. With their vision of creating challenging music which drew influences from a mix of different genres, they soon found themselves invited to take part in various musical projects.
The resulting band featured maybe the most talented personnel ever in Swedish progressive rock. Thomas Johnson played violin, keyboards, bass and mandolin, Tord LundstrÃ¶m was the vocalist, with guitars and flute, and Mattias Olsson was on drums. From 1992 to Existence (1995), Ã„nglagÃ¥rd would use a cellist, Maria Eriksson (whom would join the group at their third liveperformance) to instill an extra depth of classical reference into the bandâ€™s instrumentation.
In 1993 they released their debut album â€œHybrisâ€, (Relativity Records & Softprogressive) to a great critical success. The sound that was created on â€œHybrisâ€ was a dynamic and overwhelming mix of classical, folk, and progressive music. Featuring such diverse instrumentation as flute and violin, this album achieved world-wide success and is acknowledged today as one of the greatest progressive rock releases.
During the following years they performed concerts all over Europe, culminating in the â€œEpilogâ€ Mission, which showcased four newly written songs. Despite the increasing recognition of their music, the band was always considered the under-dog by respective labels who just did not seem to get how to market and promote the unique entity that was Ã„nglagÃ¥rd.
In January 1996, their sophomore album â€œBarnet PÃ¥ VÃ¤genâ€ was released. Seemingly influenced by jazz, funk and krautrock as much as prog, this album was more accessible than Hybris, and hinted at the remarkable live capabilities of the band.
But it did not stop there. In May 1996, Ã„nglagÃ¥rd released two epâ€™s on different labels; â€œBurlesqueâ€ on Chrome Records, and â€œLimitsâ€ on Musea - although predominantly instrumental, these had sublime melodic elements and is arguably the quintessential work of the band in their later years.
Unfortunately the shortcomings of their labels did not pertain to releasing the bandâ€™s work although, and their lack of creative support lead to the band to folding in 1996. The members would go on to pursue successful music careers outside of Ã„nglagÃ¥rd, Marias work with F.A.V.P. as well as Thomas and Mattias joining Dungen.
Despite their relatively short time as a band that lasted all of 5 years, with one full length album, two epâ€™s, and various singles, Ã„nglagÃ¥rd and arguably left at least one unique and lasting impression on the history of progressive rock in Sweden and the world over. Whilst the group may once have been, by all accounts, a dispiriting conflict between creative insight and business plans - for the prog-fan, Ã„nglagÃ¥rd will forever remain a firm favourite in the genre.
To this day, two decades on, Ã„nglagÃ¥rdâ€™s influence can be felt through the diverse music â€“from prog, post-rock, krautrock, to math-rock â€“ being created both in Sweden and abroad. For anyone who wants to get a taste of how progressive music that draws from a mix of genres should be experienced, look no further than the work of Swedish progressive rockers Ã„nglagÃ¥rd.
In the end, with their incredible blend of styles, haunting melodies and complex structures, Ã„nglagÃ¥rd have secured their place in the pantheon of the most important and influential progressive rock bands.